An Introduction to Operations Management

This course will teach you how to analyze and improve business processes, be it in services or in manufacturing. You will learn how to improve productivity, how to provide more choice to customers, how to reduce response times, and how to improve quality.

About The Course


Remember the last time you went to a restaurant. What did you expect from that restaurant? You wanted to find something on the menu that you liked, you wanted the meal to be prepared according to high quality standards, you wanted to get it quickly and didn’t want to pay too much money for it. Now, remember the last time you went to a doctor’s office or a hospital. What did you want the doctors and nurses to do? You wanted them to provide the right care for you, you wanted the care delivered with great quality, you wanted to get the care quickly, and you (or your insurance) didn’t want to pay too much for it.

Put differently, the management skills that you need to run the operations of a restaurant are the same that you need to run a hospital. And these are the skills you will learn in this course. Specifically, you will learn how to improve productivity, increase responsiveness, provide more choice to the customer, and deliver higher quality standards. In short, you will learn how to analyze business processes and how to improve them. Along the way, you will learn about topics such as Lean Operations, Six Sigma, and the Toyota production system, you will hear about bottlenecks, flows rates, and inventory levels. And, much, much more.

Watch this video to learn more about the Wharton Foundation Series on Coursera:

Click below for the other Wharton Foundation Series courses:

An Introduction to Marketing
An Introduction to Corporate Finance
An Introduction to Financial Accounting

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Will I get a Statement of Accomplishment after completing this class?

    Contingent on academic performance, you will get a Statement of Accomplishment stating that you completed this course. However, no certificate will be given from Wharton / Penn and successful completion of this course does not make you a Wharton / Penn alumnus.

  • What resources will I need for this class?

    You will need access to a spreadsheet program, some paper, and a pencil. Nothing more.

  • What is the coolest thing I'll learn if I take this class?

    You will look at the world with different eyes - you will start to detect bottlenecks, identify productivity wastes, and come up with ideas to improve business processes. A known side effect of these skills is that you might drive friends, family, or co-workers crazy when you point to their improvement opportunities...

  • What does a typical class look like?

    In a typical video session, I will introduce a small case to outline a problem in an operation. That could be a hospital, a restaurant, a bank, a call center, or whatever other setting. We will then use the setting of the case to discuss various performance measures as well as what one might want to do to improve the operation.

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Recommended Background

The course is designed for business school students and executives. There are no academic prerequisites for the course; this is not a math course and nothing done in this course requires more than high school math.
This course will be helpful to students that:
  • are preparing for their career in business and want to lay some foundations
  • are in the middle of their career and have some real problems to solve right now